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Sep172012

Personality

Life keeps throwing personality tests at me:

As psychologists will tell you, these tests indicate tendencies, rather than hard-and-fast boundaries. Someone who scores one way may act outside this parameter in a given situation. Also, people can counteract personality tendencies once they better understand them and can better adapt to other personality types with training.

I've always been skeptical about these tests. I take them not with a grain of salt but a rock. They seem too simplistic, even with the professional caveat that they shouldn't be read as steadfast.

But here's the thing: Whatever each test calls my type, they all tend to give me the same general result:

In crude summary, all this means I tend to focus on getting things accomplished, like working alone, am fiercely independent, appreciate efficiency, have low respect for authority, think creatively (no "because that's the way it's done" for me), and am pragmatic sometimes to the point of seeming cold. (So you don't think I'm a complete jerk, the full descriptions linked above will give you better nuance and, I hope, a more positive perception.)

Although I hope I'm a little softer than some of these descriptions would make me out to be, I do recognize myself in them.

And, thanks to these tests and reading about other personality types, I better understand other people. Or, rather, I better understand why I sometimes don't understand other people. And, if these personality tests are to be believed, there's no doubt they feel the same way about me.

It's extremely hard to adjust to others' personality profiles. I try--sometimes to the point of exhaustion and exasperation. When someone needs extensive detail to make what seems like a simple decision or wants to do something I feel is nonsensical just because it's tradition, I'm screaming inside.

We just have different styles of relating and processing.

What's your personality type? Do you agree with its assessment? Are you able to adjust it to better connect with others?

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Reader Comments (8)

Firstly, I have to agree with your brother's response in an earlier blog. You are not an introvert.

Granted, I have not met you in person and online personalities can vary wildly from "real world" personalities but so far I am not seeing it. You may be right on the introvert/extrovert border but if so, you're presenting your passport and crossing over the border smuggling tequila and slipping the border guards a 50 to look the other way.

Now with that out of the way, none of the traits described in these tests make you a jerk or cold or whatever. You are certainly not bound by these descriptions, rather you transcend them and you use your positive traits to go from strength to strength.

I don't get a sense that people shy away from you, rather they admire and are drawn to your sense of determination in getting things done and reaching your goals.

You are doing great. Keep up the good work.

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

I wish and hope all that good stuff about me is true! :D

Except for the introversion characteristic, which is just a reality for me. I think you boys are confusing introversion and shyness. I'm not shy, but I'm definitely an introvert. I own it. Introverts ahoy!

September 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

No wonder we get along so well! My scores are very similar to yours.

MBTI - I'm an ENTJ (the Field Marshal)
DISC - The Creative Pattern (high D and C)

Though to be honest, they sound like a high-tech version of "your personality according to your star sign".

Some of it is absolutely correct, not exactly flattering, but correct. Some of the nicer descriptors I hope are true (according to the DISC I'm charming - wouldn't that be lovely) but I'm too close to be objective.

Has it helped me in dealing with other people? Maybe a little, but I'm a Gemini, and dealing well with people is part of my dual nature. ;-)

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

The astrology-esque-ness was top of mind for me, too, Rebecca, especially when getting tested by that one that talked about "color energies." I struggle taking New Age-ish stuff seriously, although I do believe it's just a different way of talking/thinking about things that may be psychological/biological in nature.

September 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

I agree that the tests help promote understanding other personality types, which, in the long run allows for a stronger ability to empathize with others (in my opinion, empathy is the key to a successful and happy life for me). What would also be of tremendous value would be tangible tools and techniques for dealing with other personality types. The tests always seem to culminate with the "here are your results" bit. If someone developed a training where only 25% of the time was getting through the tests and the bulk of the time was how to REALLY use that information (including ways to hone your ability to empathize), I would probably go annually.

You up for that task? A new line of business for Frogdog.

Oh yeah, and sign up Simone as a new mentoree for you! She needs your wisdom even if she's a few years from considering an MBA. :-)

September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Kling

Actually, Melissa, the sales class I took that administered the DISC test actually focused on exactly that! They then worked with us to help us identify the other personality types and adapt our behavior to make them more comfortable with us and better meet their needs. It was incredibly valuable. Because you're right--it's only useful knowledge if you can use it to improve how you deal with other personality types, or know how to better ameliorate your own personality "challenges" (of which, as I learned from the tests I took, I have many).

And interesting that you mention "empathy..." I have this set of "conversation starter" cards on my dining table, and one of the questions is something along these lines: "If you could give everyone one skill or power, what would it be?" And my answer is "perspective." Because if only people broadened their understanding of others' worlds and realities, and had a little more empathy as a result, so much hurt in this world would be assuaged and prevented.

And speaking of Simone, I need to meet the newest Kling-Cougle! She's so beautiful, Melissa.

September 25, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

1. Affirmation: You're an introvert. I'm qualified to say that; I married one.

2. You hit the nail on the head - it's interesting to use these as a lens on yourself, but you know you're more nuanced than any given result (plus, you're going to be biased on how you want to see yourself). However, it's much more useful to see how your tendencies butt up against other people's tendencies. What's interesting is that you get frustrated by this. Being aware of how others react to you, and anticipating that, is one of the fastest ways I know to cut through (mis)communication BS and get things done.

It's been a long time since I've done MBTI; we have used a different one in team profiling (www.iopt.com) more recently. I know more about how I think, where my blind spots are, and why I don't always get along with project managers. The key is to use this to your advantage.

When I run across people who are really clash with me - there have been a few - I've essentially two choices. I can either try harder to explain my thought process and what I need, or I can try and reframe it for whoever is across the table from me. The former is a bit like getting into a shouting match with someone who doesn't speak the same language (see http://www.paulandstorm.com/opening/OB24%20-%20The%20International%20Language.mp3); there's a big difference between explaining for clarity and repeating the same arguments over and over. The latter requires a lot more tap dancing on my part, and often a LOT more patience to wait until they "get it". Sometimes, it's even clear that they won't ever "get it", so it becomes an exercise in provoking the right reactions to get to the end goal. Puppet master manipulative? You betcha. Necessary? Sometimes.

Look at it like this; you're in a position to extract the best out of a group of great people to accomplish more than the sum of your parts. Sometimes, that means teaching everybody how to see the world as you do, to have a shared vision. Sometimes, that means connecting to them on their individual terms and shuffling work around to get the right people working on the right parts of the elephant.

Which is all a roundabout way of saying - don't let it be a barrier. It's a great chance to build empathy and in the long run is a faster way to get better results.

3. It's been years (like, a decade), but last I tested I was ESTJ. Need to find a way to retake....

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

1. Whew! Thank you for the affirmation. I fool people by putting up a good front for a time, but it's exhausting. At least, from what I see in comments, I'm fooling people pretty well.

2. I've been fortunate to get some good training and coaching on moderating my natural tendencies, personality-wise, and working with other personality types. You're 100 percent on target that the only way to actually get anything done is to make the best possible attempt at adjusting your "style" to someone else's preferences or "style." Even better when both people make the attempt. But it is exhausting--and frustrating. You're right when you point out that it requires patience, and that's certainly something I need to work on.

3. Wonder if you could find a university psych department needing research subjects for students to administer the long-form MMPI? I've seen on-line versions of the short-form, but they're in no way as precise. It's certainly enlightening--and the best of the personality tests I've seen. (Most of the others just seem to derive in part from the long-form MMPI, anyway.)

October 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

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